STILL WAITING ON A DECISION: Amid speculation that Mitt Romney might announce his VP choice before he leaves for an international trip next week, it seems the presumptive GOP nominee has yet to make a decision. Asked about potential running mates at a townhall in Bowling Green, Ohio, Wednesday, Romney told the crowd, “I have not chosen my VP,” ABC News’ Emily Friedman reported. And as ABC News’ Russell Goldman reported, Romney’s wife, Ann, added to the chorus Wednesday in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts. “‘We’re not quite there yet,” Ann Romney told Roberts of her husband’s thinking in an exclusive interview that aired Thursday on ‘Good Morning America.” ”‘We are certainly talking a lot. This last week, this last weekend, there was a lot of discussion,” she said. “There was a lot of talk. We’re not quite there yet. And we’re going to be there soon.’”
RUBIO GETS THE NOD … FROM THE TEA PARTY: While we don’t know where Marco Rubio stands on Mitt Romney’s list, there’s one group – the Tea Party — that hopes the Florida senator will get the vice presidential nod. Rubio, who won his 2010 Senate race with backing from the Tea Party, told ABC News’ Ann Compton and Devin Dwyer that he’s honored to be associated with the group. “Sen. Marco Rubio today got the nod to be the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee — from the nation’s largest Tea Party group, not Mitt Romney. The Florida senator — the only Republican whom Romney has confirmed is being vetted for a No. 2 spot on the ticket – was the top preferred choice of thousands of surveyed Tea Party Express members, the group announced today,” Compton and Dwyer wrote. “Asked about the potential nomination by ABC News’ Ann Compton, Rubio gushed about his affinity for the Tea Party movement. “I’m always honored by my association with the Tea Party,” he said in an exclusive interview. ”I think the Tea Party has been a very positive movement for America. The Tea Party is not a partisan group. Somehow people think the Tea Party is a Republican movement. There are a lot of Republicans in the Tea Party, but what I’ve found is that the Tea Party movement are people that are just as upset at the Republican Party as they are the Democratic Party,” he said.”
PAWLENTY VOCAL ON TAX RETURNS, MUM ON VP TIMING: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty kept quiet on when Romney might make a decision on his vice presidential pick, but he was vocal when it came to defending Romney on his decision not to release more tax returns, ABC News’ Meghan Kiesel and Shushannah Walshe reported. “Pawlenty continued the Romney campaign’s attempts to refocus discussion on the economy rather than ‘shiny objects’ such as tax returns, saying that Romney’s release of two years of tax records is ‘standard,’” Kiesel and Walshe wrote. “‘Mitt Romney has released tax records for 2010 and 2011, and that’s the standard for Republican nominees, two years worth, and look, we shouldn’t be debating tax returns from 10 or 15 years ago or college transcripts from 20 or more years ago,” Pawlenty said, referring to calls by some Republicans for President Obama to release his college transcripts. “We should be debating the main issue in this race, which is jobs and the middle class.’”
PAWLENTY TO DNC: TOO FAR ON HORSE ADS: Pawlenty weighed in on the Democratic National Committee’s new ad mocking the Romney’s involvement in the expensive horse sport, dressage, telling ABC News’ Jonathan Karl that the DNC went too far, ABC News’ Matt Negrin reported. “Though Pawlenty said in an interview with ABC News’s Jon Karl that he hadn’t seen the ad, he interpreted it as a swipe at Romney’s wife, Ann, who has said she used horse-riding to cope with her illness. ‘Well, I haven’t seen the ad, but shame on them, really,’ Pawlenty said. “I mean, this is something that she does as a hobby to help her condition as a therapy for having MS, and it gives her great relief and great joy. And I think by her own account and the account of her medical professionals, it helps her. That’s something she shared with others as a sport or hobby or therapy who are facing life challenges or disabilities, and to make light of that or to criticize that, I think, is really, really low. I wish they wouldn’t do that.”
PAWLENTY NUGGETS: ABC News’ Elizabeth Hartfield looks into 9 things you might not know about Pawlenty, from toying with the idea of being a dentist to the prank he pulled on a fellow lawmaker at a Minnesota statehouse baseball game.
JINDAL IN OHIO: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who appeared with Romney at a fundraiser in Baton Rouge earlier this week, hit the trail in Columbus, Ohio, for Romney Wednesday, hosting a business roundtable at the White Castle headquarters and speaking at a rally at Romney’s Ohio headquarters, where he hammered President Obama for trying to distract voters from his record by distorting Romney’s experience. The president “can’t run on his record. He can’t run on his policies, so all he can do is attack Governor Romney. All he can do is distort his policies. All he can do is make up allegations, try to distract our attention away from his failed performance and the economy today. They’ve distorted what Gov. Romney did as governor. They distorted what he did in the private sector. They’ve even gone after what he did in high school,” Jindal said at the campaign headquarters here. “I’m just glad we’re not talking about what I did in high school,” Jindal added, lightly.
AYOTTE WITH ROMNEY FRIDAY: Sen. Kelly Ayotte will attend an event with Romney at Coastal Forest Products in Bow, N.H., on Friday, ABC News’ Sunlen Miller learned Wednesday.
AYOTTE’S PRICY LEGAL WOES: Sen. Kelly Ayotte got entangled in a pricy lawsuit when a blogger sued Ayotte and her campaign committee for allegedly barring or removing him from events, a suit that racked up at least $120,000 in legal fees for the New Hampshire senator, Politico’s Scott Wong and Manu Raju wrote. “A bizarre but little-known lawsuit has caused headaches for freshman Sen. Kelly Ayotte and cost her at least $120,000 in legal fees just as her political stock rises and she’s being mentioned as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney. Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, has dismissed the suit as ‘frivolous,’ and a federal judge largely agreed when he tossed it out in May. But Boston blogger Chris King said he would appeal to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals and threatened to take the case all the way to the Supreme Court,” Wong and Raju wrote. “U.S. District Judge John McConnell of Rhode Island wrote in his ruling that King had failed to prove he had been discriminated against and that the events were private and held on private property and therefore not subject to the First Amendment. Last month, McConnell also rejected King’s motion to reconsider the decision. But because the judge ordered each party to bear its own costs, Ayotte said she’s still paying off some outstanding legal fees. She’s doing so through a special Senate legal defense fund she launched in May 2011 that allows donors to contribute $10,000 per year to help offset her bills. Ayotte has paid two law firms at least $120,000 to fight the suit, including $20,000 between April and June of this year, Senate records reveal. She’s raised roughly an equal amount, but so far, the donations haven’t quite kept pace with ongoing costs. ‘Unfortunately, no matter how frivolous the lawsuit, you still, of course, have to pay people to defend you on it,’” Ayotte told Politico.
@senjohnthune: I commend the House’s bipartisan adoption of the #Sequestration Transparency Act, Congress needs Obama’s detailed plan to address cuts.